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Teaching Children About Failure

Parents will always have a need to protect their children. It’s part of the job. It is important in many aspects of life to be able to protect your children from potential dangers. Protecting children from failure, however, can negatively impact their development.

Failure is a part of life.

Children need to be able to fail to learn how to improve, adapt and overcome obstacles and as parents, there is no way to protect them forever. Shielding children from failure from an early age leads to a lack of ability to cope with challenges later in life, when their parents aren’t there to help them anymore.

In sport, it is important that kids learn how to lose.

It is the job of the parents and coaches to help to teach children the lessons that go along with losing. Be sure to reinforce positive messages and help them to understand how failure can be a good thing. I recently heard a quote that I believe is very relatable to this idea: ‘Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.’

How parents, coaches and teachers choose to praise children after failing can also have an impact on self-esteem and their ability to cope with mistakes. Research conducted by leading psychologists in this field indicates that focusing praise on effort, rather than praising the child personally leads to greater levels of confidence for the child and higher levels of self-esteem.

Praising children personally, such as You’re beautiful, You’re talented, You’re special, negatively impacts a child when they have failed as they begin to associate failing with their own personal flaws.

The research suggests that focusing praise on things the child did right in particular, such as how hard they tried or if they had improved from their last effort helps children to understand how they can change results through hard work rather than natural ability.

This infographic demonstrates the many lessons that can be taken from failure:

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